Competition law enforcement in the pharmaceuticals sector in Slovakia

1. Is there any specific regulatory framework that deals with competition regulation in the pharmaceutical sector in your country?

There is no exclusive competition regulatory framework related to the pharmaceutical sector. General Slovak and European competition laws apply.

2. Which authorities are entrusted with enforcing these rules?

The Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic is an independent central body of state administration of the Slovak Republic for the protection of competition (the “Office”).

(Antimonopoly office Slovak republic | Protimonopolný úrad SR (gov.sk))

3. What actions can authorities take to tackle anticompetitive conduct and what remedies can they impose?

With the aim of protecting competition, the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic intervenes regarding agreements restricting competition and undertakings which abuse their dominant position.

The Office conducts an investigation to establish whether there is a reason to initiate the administrative proceedings. Unless there are serious reasons to immediately start administrative proceedings or carry out a dawn raid, the Office usually requests information and documents to pre-analyse the case. If the Office concludes that the conduct did not breach competition law, it does not investigate the case further. Otherwise, it starts administrative proceedings.

The Office usually imposes fines. When imposing a fine, the Office considers the gravity and duration of the breach.

Under certain conditions, the Office can agree other actions with the participant to remedy the anti-competitive conduct, e.g. the participant will agree to change its conduct so that it is in line with the competition law.

Depending on the type of anti-competitive conduct, the Office can also prohibit the participant from participating in public tenders.

4. Can remedies for damages suffered due to anticompetitive conduct be sought through private enforcement? What kind of remedies and how can they be obtained?

Yes, competitors and consumers who suffer damage due to anticompetitive conduct may file a private law lawsuit with a court. They may use a decision of the Office as evidence that the defendant breached the law. Even if the Office fined the defendant in the previous administrative proceedings, the amount of compensation for damages (which are subject to court proceedings) cannot be decreased by the amount of the fine imposed by the Office.

5. Has the antitrust authority conducted any sector-wide inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector in your country and, if so, what were the main observations and consequences?

The Office has not recently conducted any sector-wide inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector.

At the EU level, on 28 January 2019 the European Commission adopted the Report “European competition authorities working together for affordable and innovative medicines” on competition enforcement in the pharmaceutical sector, which covers the period 2009–2017 (see here).

6. What is the rate of enforcement of competition laws in the pharmaceutical sector in your country in the last three years? Is it high compared to other sectors?

There are no official statistics on the rate of enforcement of competition laws in individual sectors.

7. What type of anti-competitive conduct is most common in the pharmaceutical sector in your country?

There are no official statistics on what type of anticompetitive conduct is most common in the pharmaceutical sector.

8. Please provide information on a couple of interesting/significant anti-trust cases in the pharmaceutical sector in your country.

In June 2020, the Office fined a Slovak city for creating an effective barrier to entry in the market of providing pharmaceutical care in public pharmacies in the city. The Office imposed a fine of EUR 10,000.

In June 2020, the Office conducted a dawn raid for documents to investigate an alleged cartel in the market of medicinal gases. The case is ongoing.

Portrait of Petra Čorba Stark
Petra Čorba Stark
Partner
Bratislava
Portrait of Martin Baláž
Martin Baláž
Associate
Bratislava